Dozens arrested and Newroz celebrations cancelled in Turkey


Newroz Celebrations in Diyarbakir 2010

Newroz celebrations in Istanbul and Diyarbakir have been cancelled for March 18 after the provincial governorships banned its celebration prior to 21, March. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said in a brief statement that the current ruling party in Turkey (AKP) is responsible for this and “No army, no police, no force shall prevent the Kurdish people’s march to freedom.” Nearly one hundred Kurdish activists were arrested earlier this week, and no information has been revealed about them. The National alleges that these activists were ‘militants’ with ‘explosive material’ ahead of Newroz

Newroz usually falls on the 21st of March, but the celebrations are held between 18 and 24 March. In some legends, it is believed that on this day Kurds overthrew a Tyrant. Kurdish youth have vowed to continue their celebrations despite the prohibition, arguing that this day is one of celebration and Turkey has been responsible for decades of censoring Kurdish identity.

The Diyarbakir Mayor has said children should avoid rallies, in an interview to Hurriyet Daily News he said, “Youngsters should be going to school instead of throwing stones at police on the streets” which is ironic, since Newroz celebrations are usually peaceful, and a celebration of Kurdish culture.

The banning of Newroz celebrations is unethical, and further alienates the Kurdish community in Turkey. It is one thing to ban political protests, but banning traditional celebrations further deepens the division between Kurdish people and the Turkish government.

We will be reporting on the Newroz celebration in Diyarbakir, and have sent one of our European correspondents to report on the events, and Kurdish struggle from there.